Antivaccine nonsense Medicine Popular culture

Trust in science and vaccines is declining. Is it too late to reverse the decline?

Recent evidence shows that public trust in science and vaccines has declined markedly since the pandemic. Why is this, and is there anything we can do about it?

As we are approaching the end of the fourth year of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed close to 7 million people worldwide and 1.2 million in just the US alone, both estimates being almost certainly significant undercounts of the true toll, I was depressed  to see yet more evidence indicating significantly declining trust in science and science-based interventions to combat disease, such as vaccines. For example, earlier this month the Pew Research Center published survey results noting that Americans’ Trust in Scientists, Positive Views of Science Continue to Decline, with the blurb, “Among both Democrats and Republicans, trust in scientists is lower than before the pandemic.” Not long before that, there was a spate of articles about how exemptions to school vaccine requirements are now at an all-time high and COVID-19 and influenza vaccine uptake among children is very low, based on a recent MMWR study Coverage with Selected Vaccines and Exemption from School Vaccine Requirements Among Children in Kindergarten — United States, 2022–23 School Year. The news is indeed depressing for science and vaccine advocates, as has been recent news about how vaccination rates among healthcare workers for influenza and COVID-19 have been declining, based on two studies also published in MMWR, Influenza and Up-to-Date COVID-19 Vaccination Coverage Among Health Care Personnel — National Healthcare Safety Network, United States, 2022–23 Influenza Season and Declines in Influenza Vaccination Coverage Among Health Care Personnel in Acute Care Hospitals During the COVID-19 Pandemic — United States, 2017–2023. As someone who, since skipping a year around 15 years ago and getting laid up for a week with the worst case of flu I had ever had, has always gotten his yearly flu vaccine and who is also up-to-date on COVID-19 boosters, including the most recent, I nonetheless admit to little surprise at these data. After all, I’ve been writing about vaccine hesitancy and antivaccine pseudoscience and conspiracy theories for nearly 20 years.

Before I discuss why this is happening, which is, of course, a bit sarcastic, as regular readers will recognize immediately, particularly given Jonathan Howard’s post over the weekend about a certain oncologist, but I do think it’s worth unpacking. First, let’s start with the Pew Research Center survey.

Trust in science has declined since the pandemic

The Pew survey examined a number of areas related to what Americans think of science and scientists:

  • Impact of science on society
  • Trust in scientists
  • How scientists compare to other groups
  • Differences in trust in scientists based on political orientation

The survey methodology involved polling a sample of 8,842 U.S. adults from Sept. 25 to Oct. 1, 2023 taken from the Center’s American Trends Panel (ATP), an online survey panel that is recruited through national, random sampling of residential addresses. The survey was weighted to be representative of the U.S. adult population by gender, race, ethnicity, partisan affiliation, education and other categories. In addition:

Data in this report is drawn from ATP Wave 135, conducted from Sept. 25 to Oct. 1, 2023, and includes an oversample of Hispanic men, non-Hispanic Black men and non-Hispanic Asian adults in order to provide more precise estimates of the opinions and experiences of these smaller demographic subgroups. These oversampled groups are weighted back to reflect their correct proportions in the population. A total of 8,842 panelists responded out of 9,577 who were sampled, for a response rate of 92%. The cumulative response rate accounting for nonresponse to the recruitment surveys and attrition is 3%. The break-off rate among panelists who logged on to the survey and completed at least one item is 1%. The margin of sampling error for the full sample of 8,842 respondents is plus or minus 1.6 percentage points

Unfortunately, the results of that the issue examined above are painfully predictable, as you will see, but first let’s look at the first three topics. While the vast majority of Americans agree that science has had a mostly positive effect on society, the percentage of Americans who say this has declined markedly since January 2019:

Overall, 57% of Americans say science has had a mostly positive effect on society. This share is down 8 percentage points since November 2021 and down 16 points since before the start of the coronavirus outbreak. About a third (34%) now say the impact of science on society has been equally positive as negative. A small share (8%) think science has had a mostly negative impact on society.

Are you surprised that it’s so low? To be honest, I was a bit surprised that it was only 73% in January 2019; I would have guessed higher. To me, it’s instructive to look at the graph of the distribution of answers since 2018:

Trust in science
This is a depressing decline in trust.

You could look at this chart and say that the percentage of Americans who think that science has had a “mostly negative” affect on society is still small, only 8%. However, it has doubled since 2019, and, although on an absolute basis, that is a relatively small increase, on a relative basis it’s huge. Think about it: The percentage of people who think science has been mostly harmful has doubled in less than five years. Also of interest is how the number who think that science has had an equal positive and negative impact, after having remained pretty stable for four years, has over the last two years increased on a relative basis by over 21%, a change reflected in the number of Americans who say that science has had a mostly positive impact, again after four years of relative stability (aside from a bit of an outlier high value in 2019), plunged by 11%.

This increasing distrust is mirrored by the next result of the survey:

When it comes to the standing of scientists, 73% of U.S. adults have a great deal or fair amount of confidence in scientists to act in the public’s best interests. But trust in scientists is 14 points lower than it was at the early stages of the pandemic.

The share expressing the strongest level of trust in scientists – saying they have a great deal of confidence in them – has fallen from 39% in 2020 to 23% today.

As trust in scientists has fallen, distrust has grown: Roughly a quarter of Americans (27%) now say they have not too much or no confidence in scientists to act in the public’s best interests, up from 12% in April 2020.

Again, the percentage of Americans who have little or no confidence in scientists to act in the publics best interests has more than doubled in less than four years. Let’s take a look at how these numbers compare to doctors, medical scientists, and other authority figures:

Trust in science

As you can see, there have been declines in trust in most areas, but trust in some seems more stable than others, such as the military and religious leaders. Similar to the case with scientists in general, the percentage with little or no confidence that medical scientists (which include physicians) act in the best interests of society has also roughly doubled, with a concomitant decline in the other categories.

What is, perhaps, most depressing about this study is that the decline in trust in science and scientists was not uniform. Rather, there are certain groups for which the decline was much greater than other groups. First, though, as you might expect, trust in science tends to correlate with educational attainment:

Americans with higher levels of education are especially likely to say science has had a mostly positive effect on society. About eight-in-ten adults with a postgraduate degree say this, as do 72% of those with a bachelor’s degree.

A smaller majority of Americans with some college education say science has had a mostly positive effect on society (56%). And fewer than half of those with a high school diploma or less education hold this view (42%).

The graph of the data shows this phenomenon rather starkly:

Trust in science

The above result is not unexpected, nor is it new. It is also somewhat reassuring in that the number of very highly educated COVID-19 minimizers and antivaxxers are clearly an incredibly tiny minority of highly educated people with PhDs and professional degrees. On the other hand, because of their advanced degrees, such physicians, scientists, and other PhDs have an outsized influence when they promote pseudoscience and conspiracy theories because of the letters after their names, particularly among people who, unlike those of us who have pointed out for a long time that an advanced degree does not inoculate against irrational beliefs, assume that those with an advanced degree, particularly in medicine or medical science, must know what they’re talking about.

The result that is particularly worrisome to me should come as no surprise to our readers, namely that trust (or, more specifically, lack of trust) in science has become very much politicized, with a huge partisan difference in trust in science and scientists. Although trust in science has also declined among Democrats, it’s most striking among Republicans:

As you can see from the chart above, belief that science has had a net positive effect on society has only declined slightly among Democrats and those who lean Democratic; it’s barely lower than it was in 2016, although it had increased to an even higher level between 2019 and 2021. In contrast, among those who are Republican or lean Republican, there has been a massive decline, consistent with what I’ve been discussing all along regarding, for example, the antivaccine movement.

Although the numbers are small, even among Democrats with a bachelor’s degree, there has been a marked decline in trust in science. It’s much worse among Republicans because Republicans started from a much higher baseline distrust of science, but the percentage of those expressing little or no confidence that scientists act in the best interests of society increased by more than three-fold among both political orientations, although the magnitude of the change was less among those with some college or less:

Trust science

As you might recall, antivaccine beliefs used to be more or less evenly distributed between the left and the right (although when I first started writing about the antivaccine movement in 2004 there existed an exaggerated if not outright false stereotype that antivaxxers tended to be hippy-dippy crunchy lefties, particularly suburban moms, in liberal enclaves like Marin County or Manhattan). However, beginning around the time of the Tea Party wave in 2010 or somewhat earlier, the political center of gravity of the antivaccine movement began to shift rightward, a process that accelerated in 2015 with the resistance to California SB 277 (which eliminated nonmedical exemptions to school vaccine mandates), picked up more steam with the rise of Donald Trump and his victory in the 2016 Presidential election, and then was turbocharged by the pandemic, to the point where it is now very much further to the right than it ever was.

Of course, vaccine science is not the only science. I only mention it so prominently here because the antivaccine movement is the science denial movement with which I am most familiar. I also note that evolution denial (a.k.a. creationism or “intelligent design” creationism) has, due to its tight association with conservative and evangelical religions whose adherents believe in a more literal interpretation of the Bible, always also been associated far more with the political right than the left. I also can’t help but wonder whether the main drivers of the decreasing trust in science and scientists documented by this survey are vaccines and COVID-19 mitigations.

Also disturbing are the racial disparities in trust in science documented in this survey:

The overall picture painted by the Pew survey is a depressing one for science advocates. Trust in science has declined since the pandemic hit, and that decline shows no signs of leveling off yet. It should not be too surprising, then, that there have been consequences to this decline in trust.


Going along with this general decline in trust in science and scientists, vaccination rates have not recovered to their prepandemic levels:

Vaccination rates among U.S. kindergartners for routine childhood shots have still not returned to pre-pandemic levels, according to new federal data published Thursday.

Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) looked at how many children met school requirements for the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine; the diphtheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis (DTaP) vaccine; the poliovirus (polio) vaccine; and the varicella (chickenpox) vaccine.

For the 2022-23 school year, about 93% of children in kindergarten had met the vaccination requirements. That’s about the same number that was seen the previous school year, but lower than the 94% seen in 2020-21 and the 95% seen in 2019-20, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. The latter percentage had been the standard for about 10 years.

At the same time, rates of exemption to vaccines required for school have increased:

Vaccine exemptions

Now, I know what some readers might be thinking. A decline of 2% in the vaccination rates of kindergarteners sure doesn’t sound like much. “Only” 2% sounds like a small decline, and it is on an absolute basis although on a relative basis going from 95% to 93% coverage represents a 40% increase in the number of unvaccinated children. Remember, also, that for the most transmissible vaccine-preventable diseases, the percentage of immune people necessary to achieve herd immunity is 95% or higher, meaning that vaccination rates need to be 95%—or preferably higher.

As the CDC report on vaccine exemptions notes in its conclusion:

The overall percentage of children with an exemption increased from 2.6% during the 2021–22 school year to 3.0% during the 2022–23 school year, the highest exemption rate ever reported in the United States (2). The percentage of children with an exemption increased in 40 states and DC. To achieve the Healthy People 2030 target of 95% MMR coverage, exemptions cannot exceed 5%. State-level exemption rates in excess of 5% prevent 10 states from potentially achieving ≥95% MMR coverage even if all nonexempt kindergartners in 2022–23 were vaccinated, up from four states in 2021–22. National MMR coverage of 93.1% during the 2022–23 school year translates to approximately 250,000 kindergartners who are at risk for measles infection.

As we’ve discussed here many times before going back to the very earliest years of this blog, what happens when overall vaccination coverage declines is that it tends to do so unevenly, with pockets of children with vaccine uptake much lower than that needed for herd immunity. You can see that from how exemption rates are now over 5% in 10 states. When that happens, we start to see outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases, usually starting with the most contagious of vaccine-preventable childhood diseases, measles, as happened earlier this year in Ohio where there was an outbreak that sickened 85 children, the vast majority of whom were unvaccinated.

Some states have really high exemption rates, too. For instance, Idaho has an exemption rate of over 12%, with uptake ranging from 80.7% and 81.8% for four key childhood vaccines (MMR, DTaP, polio, and varicella). That’s really low, far below what is needed for herd immunity, especially for measles. Other states with high exemption rates include Arizona (7.4%), Oregon (8.1%), Utah (8.1%), and Wisconsin (7.2%), among others. States with very low exemption rates include California (0.2%), Mississippi (0.2%), West Virginia (<0.1%), and New York (0.1%), all states that do not allow nonmedical “personal belief” exemptions to school vaccine mandates and whose exemption rates are consistent with the percentage of children who would have valid medical exemptions. Basically, restricting nonmedical exemptions to school vaccine mandates works.

Unsurprisingly, as I have pointed out before this latest CDC report was published, antivaxxers have crowed and gloated over the decline in childhood vaccination rates and the increase in nonmedical vaccine exemptions that has taken place since the pandemic. Similarly, COVID-19 contrarians in the name of unthinking fealty to evidence-based medicine precepts to the point of echoing longstanding antivaccine tropes that has led them to undermine not just confidence in COVID-19 vaccines but confidence in the entire childhood vaccine schedule, tut-tut and gloat, “I told you so,” never acknowledging their role in promoting distrust of vaccines and public health science.

Meanwhile, online, antivaxxers have seamlessly repurposed antivax rhetoric and conspiracy theories about MMR and other childhood vaccines to COVID-19 vaccines and back again:

“No no no. Avoid them all,” one person says. “Once they’re injected into the bloodstream, the metals and toxins have access to the brain and every organ!” she claims falsely. “Arm yourself with information to decline because they will pressure you.”

Others share stories of children they claim have been damaged by the MMR vaccine. Some advise the parents to “just ignore” communications from the NHS. “I keep getting letters for all my kids. It’s scaremongering. I’ve threatened my surgery with harassment if they don’t stop sending me letters,” another person says.


Part of the problem, said Selvarajah, is that there is a “massive overhang” from the days of Andrew Wakefield, who in the late 1990s pushed the debunked theory that the MMR vaccine causes autism – leading uptake to plummet. Those false claims still circulate in some parent circles, he added. General scepticism about vaccines has also risen post-pandemic: “Since Covid we’ve seen a lot more hesitancy. Theories about the MMR and Covid vaccines have merged.”

As I’ve long been saying, this was always going to happen. There are only a limited number of antivaccine narratives, and they are endlessly repurposed and tweaked for new vaccines as they arise. We’ve long pointed out how doctors who voice suspicion of COVID-19 vaccines seem inevitably drawn towards the very same antivaccine narratives that have been applied to childhood vaccines since time immemorial (or at least since long before I started paying serious attention two decades ago), narrative such as claims that the disease is “harmless” (applied to both measles and COVID-19 in children, even though before the measles vaccine measles used to kill around the same number of children adjusted for population increases, as COVID-19 kills now), that “natural immunity” is better, and that vaccines haven’t been adequately tested. That last one is a favorite of Dr. Vinay Prasad, whose EBM fundamentalism led him to start parroting misleading antivaccine rhetoric about childhood vaccines having never been tested in “saline controlled” randomized clinical trials and even repeating almost word-for-word antivax “do not comply” rhetoric.

It’s not just childhood vaccines, either, nor is it just lay people. As I cited above, the CDC recently reported that vaccination rates for COVID-19 and influenza are declining among US healthcare workers. The rates are truly appalling, too, as a news story summarized:

For the first study, researchers pulled data from the CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) for January to June 2023. They found that flu vaccine coverage was 81% among health care employees at hospitals and 47.1% at nursing homes. In terms of COVID vaccine coverage for medical workers, it was at just 7.2% at hospitals and 22.8% at nursing homes.

Again, these are appallingly low numbers, and the trend is not good either:

In a second study, the CDC researchers analyzed the same data to determine the level of flu vaccination among health care personnel. Prior to the COVID pandemic, flu vaccine coverage rose from 88.6% in 2017-2018 to 90.7% in 2019-2020. However, the rate declined to 85.9% in the 2020-2021 season and dropped again to 81.1% in 2022-2023.

When you can’t even get healthcare personnel to do the right thing with respect to their own health and that of their patients, you know there’s a problem.

So what’s going on?

Public health and science advocates are understandably somewhat puzzled and unhappy about these results. Of course, antivaxxers and COVID-19 minimizers (like Dr. Prasad) are quick to blame scientists and the public health apparatus exclusively. Of course, no science advocate that I’m aware of denies that part of this growth in distrust is, in part, a self-inflicted wound. The CDC’s performance very early in the pandemic, particularly with respect to testing, masking recommendations, and personal protective equipment, was not very good. The difference is that science advocates will admit this and suggest ways to do better, just as we have always criticized the FDA and CDC when they suffered lapses.

In contrast, you’ll notice how those most responsible for intentionally stoking this distrust completely ignore their role in, well, stoking this distrust since 2021 (at least). As Dr. Howard so well put it, when “reputable” doctors lecture science advocates about how it’s “entirely predictable” that parents would become suspicious of routine chlldhood vaccines, his conclusion is correct but not for the reasons he claims. Surely his incessant arguments that COVID-19 isn’t dangerous to children, like this one, had nothing to do with it:

Covid-19 is less deadly to children than many other risks we accept as a matter of course, including drowning, vehicle accidents, and even cardiovascular disease.

This was exactly how antivaxxers used to minimize the severity of measles. Indeed, this is nothing more than the Brady Bunch gambit, in which antivaxxers used to point to a 1969 episode of The Brady Bunch and other old sitcoms that played measles for laughs as evidence that measles wasn’t considered dangerous then, updated for COVID-19.

There are, of course, a number of other forces promoting distrust of science and vaccines. As Katrine Wallace, an epidemiologist and anti-misinformation advocate at the University of Illinois Chicago, notes:

Wallace attributes the rise of scientific mistrust to what she described as an “infodemic” about Covid-19: an influx of conflicting information and opinions about the virus and prevention measures. “It led to a lot of public chaos, bewilderment, message fatigue and people just kind of checking out,” Wallace told CNN. “It just causes a lot of confusion because we have different people with big platforms saying different things.”

“Infodemic” is a term that was coined 20 years ago about the tsunami of information, in which scientifically valid information is mixed together with pseudoscience and conspiracy theories in such a way that it is almost impossible for a lay person to tell which is which, which is then amplified by the algorithms of social media that feed us what causes the most “engagement”:

In the absence of high-quality information about the Covid-19 virus, “information voids” for public health topics filled social media platforms with speculation,supplements and untested cures, she added.

In Wallace’s eyes, the system amplified disinformation and cultivated growing scientific mistrust among groups.

“Everyone was at home on social media and interacting in these echo chambers filtering out any information they didn’t want to see,” Wallace said. “Different groups come to different conclusions because they’re interacting with different information.”

Of course, much of that misinformation was, in fact, disinformation in that it was not erroneous or incorrect misinformation innocently shared, but rather the product of groups seeking to promote their own ideologically based narrative:

And often, experts say, that flood of false information was intentional and malicious — attacking scientific voices in favor of inaccurate content.

Dr. Peter Hotez, the dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, said a “revisionist history” popped up as the pandemic emerged, blaming scientists for seeding mistrust and exacerbating the harms of Covid-19.

“There was a predatory, targeted, deliberate movement from the far right trying to discredit science and scientists,” Hotez said. “The narrative that’s trying to be put out there is that the scientists did something wrong.”

Dr. Hotez is, of course, not wrong here. Far from it. All you have to do is to look at who appeared regularly on Fox News during the pandemic to promote doubt about nonpharmaceutical interventions against COVID-19 (e.g., masking, business closures, etc.) and about how dangerous the virus was in order to promote a “we want them infected” narrative pushing “natural herd immunity,” coupled with the promotion of quack cures like ivermectin and misinformation casting doubt on the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines. Unlike the way those blaming it all on scientists ignore their role in stoking distrust of science, Dr. Hotez acknowledges that we probably contributed to it:

Hotez said the scientific community can make some changes that will build trust.

“We need to up our game in terms of how we do science communication,” he said. “Stop with the old-fashioned idea of communication that we talk to the American people as if they’re in the sixth grade. Talk to them like adults.”

Universities, which Hotez believes are risk-averse, should encourage their scientists to speak out, he said.

That last part resonates with me, given the proclivity of antivaxxers and quacks dating back to long before the pandemic for trying to attack me through my employer by burying my department chair in complaints for my social media activity and trying to get me fired—or at least silenced by my job. Fortunately, there is a strong culture of academic freedom in universities that resists such efforts. Unfortunately, that same culture has protected academics promoting misinformation.

Be that as it may, just answering misinformation with good information and talking to the public “like adults” will never be sufficient. I like to cite Brandolini’s law, which states that the energy required to refute misinformation is an order of magnitude greater than the energy required to create it, and then observe that Brandolini was an optimist. My observation has been that it often takes at least two or three orders of magnitude to refute misinformation compared to what it takes to create it. We will always be at a huge disadvantage as long as we take only the approach of debunking. That’s why I’m a big fan now of “prebunking,” which involves recognizing the common narratives and conspiracy theories behind antiscience misinformation and preemptively teaching about them and trying to provide critical thinking skills that allow one to recognize new forms of old misinformation when one sees them.

In the meantime, science advocates, scientists, and physicians have their work cut out for them, as the trendiness suggest that we haven’t yet hit bottom in terms of distrust of science and medicine.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

17 replies on “Trust in science and vaccines is declining. Is it too late to reverse the decline?”

I listened to Steve Novella’s podcast segment on this topic, and you and he are, unsurprisingly, in agreement on most things.

One thing I think neither of you mentioned is that “trust in scientists” is not desirable, or arguably even possible. Let me explain.

I trust (to a greater or lesser extent) specific scientists. I trust, for instance, David Gorski. I have a lot of confidence in Elisabeth Bik. Richard Wiseman is highly trustworthy, despite his career of fooling people.

I am afraid that I don’t trust John Ioannidis any longer. Peter Duesberg, not so much. And I certainly don’t trust random physicists who think they’re experts on climate science, say John Clauser (, paywall removed).

Unfortunately, you actually can’t trust “scientists”. You have to make a reasoned judgment and trust particular scientists. That’s very hard for people who know next to nothing about science, which your statistics on the differences between people with varying levels of education reflects.

Placing trust in individuals (or institutions) instead of evidence is a mistake. This is how demagogues are able to succeed. “Science” should always be tested regardless of who is making the claim. If something doesn’t hold up under scrutiny, science is working as intended. Make the correction and move on.

Put another way: don’t assume a statement is correct because the speaker has been correct on other topics; conversely, don’t assume a statement is incorrect because the speaker has been incorrect on other topics. These are two sides of a generalization fallacy.

I realise that your ‘testing’ of science is suspect, since it only involves people who produce the results you want to hear but, otherwise, who are you and where is the real Chaos Infusion?

However, statistically speaking, the chances of someone being correct after a lifetime of incorrectness is far lower than the chance of someone being incorrect after a lifetime of correctness.

What does AI have to say?

Asked the artificial intelligence “Alexa,” Is vaccine confidence declining?
Answer: Hmm, I don’t have an answer for that.

Asked Alexa, is vaccine confidence increasing?
Answer: Sorry, I don’t have an answer to that.

Asked Alexa, are scientists trustworthy?
Answer: “Yes, scientists are the most trusted professionally…”

Asked Alexa, who is O-r-a-c?
Answer: Gave a nice overview of David Gorski.

MJD says,

The only thing we can say for certain is that Orac (i.e. fictitious computer) is lost in the shadow of Dr. David Gorski.

re ” large educational differences”

1.Amongst those I regularly monitor, distrust of science as well as other institutions prevails:
mainstream media is always suspect as are governmental agencies. Like right wing advocates, universities and public schools are reviled.
I recently found a few articles that detail efforts to dismantle the educational system supported by wealthy partisans who don’t like paying taxes ( The New Republic– ” Republicans want to end Public School”).

A few states were singled out and they match those mentioned above.

Those I survey label what they’re doing as ‘science’ and SBM as disinformation/ misinformation!
Oh what a tangled web they weave etc.

Open up more liability for adverse reactions. There is headroom between the current seemingly one-sided system and full on tort liability (for instance statutory caps). I don’t see why anyone should trust any manufacturer that shields itself from liability. An example is the Federal government even waives sovereign immunity for contracts. The reason is no one would do business with the government if they could not enforce the contracts. Similarly here; why do business with entities that hold heads I win/tails you lose sort of power.

Fractally wrong.
The current system in Vaccine Court favours plaintiffs. You’re just annoyed that the Court refuses to acknowledge certain things as vaccine injuries because there’s no good evidence that they are. Not only that, the system is “no fault”, so even if plaintiffs lose, their legal fees are usually paid.

1) This didn’t cover the COVID-19 vaccines at the time of the mandates.
2) While the “vaccine court” phrase is a nice soundbite for pro-vaxxers/Pharma folks, the devil is in the details and it amounts to the proverbial fox guarding the hen house.
“In the context of the NCVIA, the paradigm has been turned on its head as
the deep pocket, the pharmaceutical company, is tempted to be careless
because its costs are borne by the children who take the vaccine, along with
everyone who pays the excise tax. The law has worked as designed to keep
cases out of civil court,110 providing manufacturers with effective immunity
from tort liability.111 This immunity was designed to increase the potential
profits of vaccines and encourage pharmaceutical companies to develop more
vaccines and distribute them more widely, but immunity from liability also
eliminates the pharmaceutical companies’ incentives to improve current
vaccines and to design and bring new vaccines to the market carefully.
The most important bulwark against moral hazard is a relationship with
the party bearing the cost.113 A personal relationship can motivate a person to
deal fairly with friends or co-workers when that same person will cheat on their taxes or game a government program given the opportunity.114
Pharmaceutical companies are not people; they are not capable of having the
sort of relationships that serve as a bulwark against moral hazard. The primary
purpose of any corporation is to benefit the shareholders by maximizing

Another problem with the NCVIA arises because the HHS has strong
incentives to limit compensation.116 HHS’s goal is to achieve herd immunity
by ensuring that as many children as possible are vaccinated,117 and there is a
concern that compensation of injured children undermines public confidence
in vaccines and gives the impression that they are not safe.118 Loss of public
confidence in the safety of vaccines leads to lower vaccination rates and
outbreaks of disease, 119 so HHS uses its power to limit compensation to protect
public confidence.120 Preventing compensation serves another goal, a financial one. Since the surplus $3.8 billion in the Vaccine Injury Trust Fund
is loaned to the Treasury and used for other government programs,121 if the
HHS does not keep awards low, the government could face potential tax
increases or spending cuts.122
HHS has the authority to change the rules governing the adjudication by
unilaterally modifying the Vaccine Injury Table,123 without any duty to do so
in a transparent manner.124 Modifying the Vaccine Injury Table changes who
has the burden of either proving or disproving causation.125 HHS has used this
power, along with the power it has as the opposing party in the suit,126 to
pursue its goals through a process which many have considered adversarial,127
despite the fact that as an executive government agency it should be helping
to implement the desire of Congress to compensate injured people “quickly,
easily, and with certainty and generosity.”128
HHS frames vaccine injuries as extremely rare, with only one
compensable claim for every million doses administered.129 This statistic is
misleading simply because the current vaccine schedule recommends over
sixty doses per child.130 But, it is also important to note that this impressive ratio is a fragile one and would be dramatically adjusted with a relatively small
increase in the number of people who are compensated.131 This creates a
temptation for HHS to dismiss as many claims as possible, even unfairly, to
keep confidence high.
Since HHS is strongly motivated to maintain public confidence in
vaccines132 and maintain herd immunity,133 the government has little incentive
to publicly criticize the safety of vaccines. The NCVIA does require HHS to
promote the development of safer vaccines and issue a report to Congress
periodically;134 however, in the thirty years since the NCVIA was passed, HHS
has never issued a report to Congress as required by law.135 Although there
are groups that look at the safety of vaccines,136 especially new ones,137 HHS
has not made examining the safety of existing vaccines a priority, and
according to the President of the Institute of Medicine, there is a “paucity of
strong conclusions about possible vaccine side effects.”138 Vaccines are
beneficial to society in general, but they have a real cost to a small number of
individuals; the inventive structure of the NCVIA motivates pharmaceutical
companies and the government to push that cost onto the injured children and
their families.”

As a result of this sweetheart system for the Pharmaceutical companies:

“[U]nsurprisingly,… the childhood
vaccination schedule has doubled the number of diseases vaccinated against,
and the number of doses has almost tripled.140 Since every vaccine shot carries
some risk, this expansion of the vaccine schedule has increased the risk of
injury. The number of children compensated for vaccine injuries in the last
ten years has gone up, from an average of ninety-two a year from 2000 to
2009, to an approximate average of 426 a year from 2010 to 2018.141 This
increase in the number of injured people has not dampened sales, as the top
four vaccine manufacturers brought in over $25 billion in vaccine sales for
2017.142 The top vaccine manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline, which had
approximately $7 billion in sales,143 had an operating profit margin of over
31.9%, making £1.644 billion in 2017 (approximately $2.7 billion).144
Justice Sotomayor points out in her dissent to Bruesewitz that protecting
vaccine manufacturers from liability will have an unintended consequence:
these companies “will often have little or no incentive to improve the designs
of vaccines that are already generating significant profit margins.”145 If past
is prologue, then Justice Sotomayor’s concerns are well founded. The increase
in cases of encephalopathy related to the whole cell Pertussis found in DPT produced different reactions in other countries.146 Where the United States
created legislation to stabilize the market and compensate the injured,147 Japan
partially discontinued use of DPT in the 1970s until an acellular version of the
Pertussis vaccine, with a far lower incidence rate of encephalopathy, became
available in Japan in 1981.148
In the United States, an acellular version of the vaccine was not registered
for widespread use until 1996.149 Almost 4,000 claimants brought claims in
the vaccine court for injuries relating to the whole cellular Pertussis vaccine in
the eight years after the implementation of the VICP in 1988.150 Fewer than
1,000 have brought claims in the last twenty-two years after the introduction
of acellular Pertussis.151 This means that the vast majority of the children
injured by DPT from 1988 to 1996 would not have been seriously injured if
they had been given the acellular version of the shot, which was already in use
in Japan.152 If the pharmaceutical companies had not been given effective
immunity through the NCVIA, then the acellular version of DPT (“DTaP”)
probably would have been made available earlier and prevented many cases
of encephalitis, including the one affecting Andrew Clements.153”

Thank you for confirming my point.
Later investigations confirmed that the DTP was not responsible for those cases of encephalitis. In fact, some experts feel that the replacement of DTP by DTaP and TDaP was bad as it’s less effective at giving immunity against pertussis.
In addition, even though the vaccine schedule has been expanded, the amount of antigens in each has been reduced. I find the source you used unconvincing.

Speaking as someone who is very supportive of vaccines and vaccine mandates, I have to admit that I would probably answer ‘equal positive and negative’ to the question asked by Pew. I have to acknowledge that science – in addition to all the incredible and positive advances it’s granted us – is also responsible for all sorts of incredibly bad things: splitting the atom, the mass production of toxic and/or ‘forever chemicals’ (PFAS/neonicotinoids/etc), the proliferation of plastics, and so forth.

I agree. When all is said and done, science is no more good or evil than any of the other tools we’ve made to understand and manipulate the world. Its effectiveness, however, means that both its positive and negative aspects are subsequently amplified.

[…] As AI is rapidly adopted,the potential for the misuse of tools that create deepfake images and false text and audio is being recognized. AI can enabling scams, orchestrate social attacks, and foster discord. The potential for AI to create targeted health misinformation, specifically intentionally wrong data, is also becoming understood. The “infodemic” documented at this blog over the past nearly four years has caused confusion, panic, and mistrust, and is driving down trust in vaccines. […]

I am reading your electronic post thanks to science. My food stays cold in my refrigerator thanks to science. We can see faraway planets and microbes in detail thanks to science.

Science is literally everywhere. It describes reality as we know it and gave us a way to live the modern life.

So how can we not trust it? Of course, we DO trust science!

I trust science involved in everything mentioned above. (except that I do not trust my Samsung refrigerator.)

But then, “science” is invoked to support party politics, promote perverse behaviour, or sell unsafe products. Scientists who created a deadly virus that killed millions invoke “science” to cover themselves. They say that questioning what they did to us is “antiscience aggression”.

We do not have to trust such “science”, of course. It is politics, salesmanship, misdirection, anything but science.

Many people do not think this through and think that they “do not trust science”. Those same people plug their phone into the charger, fully trusting the science that made that work. They trust science. But they do not trust propaganda and sales messages masquerading as science and cannot properly verbalize their feelings.

…promote perverse behaviour…

Wow. The judgement of what qualifies as “perverse behavior” isn’t one from science at all, it’s your personal judgement. I hate to think about what someone like you decides is “perverse”, so I’m not asking, but the fact that you think it’s an issue of science is just another bit of evidence that you have no effing clue about real science.

Want to respond to Orac? Here's your chance. Leave a reply! Just make sure that you've read the Comment Policy (link located in the main menu in the upper right hand corner of the page) first if you're new here!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading